Photographs by courtesy of the Tourism Council of Bhutan
Click to play Bhutanese music:
Artist: Jigme Drukpa Title: ‘Yak Legbi Ihadar’ from CD: ‘Endless Songs of Bhutan’
Courtesy link: Bhutanese music can be sampled and downloaded through our Bookstore.
Thimphu (Capital of Bhutan)
Location: Western Bhutan
Distance from Paro: 65km (1hr 30mins)
Elevation: 2,320m (7,610ft)
Tashichho Dzong is Bhutan’s most stately and arguably most impressive building. The Fortress of the glorious religion houses the throne room of His Majesty the King, the main secretariat building and the central monk body. Its courtyard is open to visitors during the Thimphu Tshechu and when the monks move to
their winter residence in Punakha.
Thimphu Tshechu Festival
Thimphu Tshechu: Tshechu are religious festivals honouring Guru Rimpoche, the patron saint who brought Buddhism
to Bhutan in the 8th century. He is regarded as the founder of the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism, the “oldest school” of Lamaism which is still followed very popularly. His biography is highlighted by 12 episodes of the model of the Buddha Shakyamuni’s life.
Simtokha Dzong is a small dzong, located about 3 miles south of the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu. Built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan, the Donzg is the first of its kind built in Bhutan. An important historical monument and former Buddhist monastery, today it houses one of the premier Dzongkha language learning institutes.
Dochula Pass is around 3150 meters from sea level and it’s mostly covered with white clouds, where on a clear day you can see
a spectacular view of the mighty Himalayan mountain ranges. Dochula Pass serves
as the stop for all the passers-by traveling to and from Punakha and Wandgi for a hot cup of coffee well served from the Dochula Cafeteria located just above
beautiful Dochula Pass.
National Memorial Chorten (Stupa)
The National Memorial Chorten is located near the Jigme Dorji National referral Hospital. It was built in 1974 in memory of the third king of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, ‘the father of Modern Bhutan’. The chorten (stupa)
had a major renovation in 2008. The chorten (stupa) features mandalas, statues and altars dedicated to the third Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan.
Constructed in the 15th century, this is one of the oldest temples in the Thimphu Valley, and is dedicated to Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist emanation of compassion. The temple affords wonderful views over the entire valley.
Buddha Point (Kuensel Phodrang)
Another place from where you can get a good overview of the Thimphu valley is from the Buddha point (Kuensel Phodrang). It is again a short drive from the town. You can pay your obeisance and offer prayers to the Buddha, the largest statue in the country and then walk around and take
in the view of the valley.
Tango Cheri Monastery
It takes about an hour to arrive at the temple and is about a 900 feet climb. Tango
Cheri Monastery is a Buddhist college, and it’s the residence of the Desi Tenzin Rabgye, a young boy who is the reincarnation of the 16th-century monk who built Tango.
The National Folk Heritage Museum
The National Folk Heritage Museum displays traditional Bhutanese ways of life in a traditional Bhutanese house. It
provides an interesting window into Bhutanese culture and the domestic lives of the Bhutanese. There are also Bhutanese dances and exhibits held in the Museum
The National Institute of Traditional Medicine
In Bhutan, equal emphasis is given to both allopathic and traditional medicines. The rich herbal medicines made from medicinal plants abundant in the kingdom are prepared and dispensed here. The Institute is also a training school for traditional medicine practitioners. The complex is closed to visitors due to considerations of hygiene, but one can still walk around
it and visit the showroom.
Zorig Lobdra Choekhor Painting School (school of 13 arts and crafts)
Commonly known as the Painting School, the Institute offers you a glimpse of novices learning 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. It is a hands-on trip for you. Enjoy
a few moments with the future artists of the country.
The National Library
The National Library was established in the late 1960s primarily to conserve the literary treasures which form a significant part of Bhutan’s cultural heritage. It now houses an extensive collection of Buddhist literature mostly in block-printed format, with some works several hundred years old. There is also a small collection of foreign books,
the stock of which mainly comprises works written in English. Take the opportunity to see the world’s biggest book stationed in the ground floor.
The Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA)
The Royal Academy of Performing Arts (RAPA) is the home of the Royal Dance troupe. The history of the academy dates back to 1954 when it was started under the command of His
late Majesty the King, Jigme Dorji Wangchuck with the gracious intention to preserve and promote Bhutanese performing arts. The academy was institutionalized in 1967 with a mandate to preserve and promote performing arts traditions. Folk music and dancing-group were introduced in 1970.
VAST (Voluntary Artists’ Studio, Thimphu)
Located along Chang Lam is a busy place with after-school and weekend drawing and painting classes for youngsters conducted by volunteer artists. A gallery on the top floor exhibits a mixture of both traditional and contemporary works. There is also a small library and coffee shop where budding artists are encouraged to meet.
Takin Zoo in Motithang
Motithang Takin Preserve, located in the Motithang district of Thimphu, is a wildlife reserve area for takin, the National Animal of Bhutan. Originally a mini-zoo, it was converted into a preserve when it was discovered that the animals refrained from inhabiting the surrounding forest even when set free.
Botanical Garden at Thimphu
The botanical garden in Serbithang, about 15 kilometres from Thimphu, is becoming a popular weekend spot for Thimphu residents who want to get away from the city. Sometimes there are
people seeking solitude who go to the viewpoint from where the hill drops away sharply. From this point one can catch the afternoon breeze, see the Thimphu chu and farmers working in the fields below and the rising hills in the distance.
Paper Factory in Thimphu
This small factory produces watermarked paper as well as cards, lampshades, envelopes, calendars and other items made from traditional Bhutanese paper.
A wide assortment of colourful, hand woven textiles and other craft products is available for purchase at the
Government-run Handicrafts Emporium and many smaller handicrafts shops around the town. One can pick up small items as souvenirs.
Vegetable market, Rock climbing, Mountain climbing, River rafting etc